Let the spinning begin.
Pundits and analysts from both sides of the political spectrum are deciphering, interpreting and calculating the impact of last night’s mid-term elections. Our own public policy analysts were up late into the night closely watching the returns from across the country.
What’s our take?
I’ve lived long enough and seen enough to subscribe to the old adage that rarely is anything as good as you hope for – or as bad as you fear.
Rarely is this more true than in the political realm.
But more on that in a moment.
As Christian citizens, we don’t see things first and foremost through a political lens but instead a moral one. Of course, it’s all too easy to get caught up in partisan fervor, especially when one party seems to align more regularly and consistently with the values we hold dear. To that end, it should go without saying there’s nothing wrong with identifying with or championing a particular party so long as it’s based upon deeply held principles.
But because of the priority of deciphering things via a Christian worldview, the question is not really how Republicans or Democrats fared in the mid-terms, but rather how did those issues that are central to the tenets of Christianity hold up at the ballot box?
By and large, pretty well. In many of the most hotly contested races, voters sided with candidates espousing conservative values. This is a good thing, and we should celebrate the outcome. The ensuing shift of power in the Senate should lead to a greater spirit of debate and discussion, although to what degree and to what end remains to be seen.
We were thrilled to see the voters of Tennessee pass Amendment One, which states that nothing in the Tennessee Constitution gives a woman a right to have an abortion. “Personhood” amendments in North Dakota and our own state of Colorado were defeated.
I’ll leave the race-by-race punditry to others, but in reflecting on the election, I’d like to share five lessons I think we can learn from this year’s campaign:
- The Reality of the Pendulum. If politics during the last few election cycles has taught us anything it’s that the pendulum tends to shift back and forth, so it’s unwise to put all our faith in politicians. “Some trust in horses and chariots but we trust in the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7). Public policy involvement through voting is part of our Christian responsibility and even an act of love for our neighbor. But we must do it all from that perspective that our trust isn’t in the process, but in our Lord.
- The Process is Difficult. Last night it struck me how many times the pundits and commentators talked about “hard-won” battles. Elections are won when people get involved and talk about the issues with their neighbor, explain why voting is important, volunteer, serve and vote. It isn’t easy or convenient. It can take its toll on us. But it’s important. Our own policy team and associated Family Policy Councils did tremendous work at great personal sacrifice. I applaud and thank them.
- Our Values are Not Always Mainstream. Although I believe that most Americans generally support traditional one-man, one-woman marriage, the sanctity of life and religious freedom, many intellectual elites will often scoff at such ideals. It might not be popular to talk about traditional marriage on a college campus, but in the coming days, standing up for these types of Christian principles will require a spirit of winsome boldness.
- Politics is a Battle for the Mind and Heart. Just like you would never browbeat someone into loving you or push someone into a relationship with Jesus Christ, the candidates who tend to do best are the ones who try to win our hearts as well as our minds. They don’t simply bury us in facts; they tell us a compelling story and we’re drawn to them on a personal level. This is exactly how we’re to engage others. If winning the right-to-life argument was merely a matter of the facts, we would have won decades ago. The facts align with a Christian worldview. It’s up to us to win the argument by winning over an individual’s heart.
- In the End, All is Well. But We Still Have a Lot of Work to Do! Elections matter because 1) they involve people – people whom God loves and 2) they can have serious consequences. But we need not fret or fear like people without the hope of eternity. That said, we’re not to be blasé either. I don’t believe we were put on this earth to mark time but instead to make a difference. As such, we have the luxury of living with a supernatural confidence. We can’t lose! Henry Longfellow put it quite succinctly and wisely when he once wrote: “Do your duty; that is best; Leave unto the Lord the rest.”
I long for a day when both parties and all candidates are pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-religious freedom. In the meantime, though, we have our work cut out for us. May the Lord grant us wisdom and patience to play our part and recognize our responsibilities as citizens as a privilege rather than a burden.
I’d love to hear your reaction to last night’s results. Were your values and interests well represented in the winning tally?